Review: Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

by Jake Sproul

Rating: (out of )
Grade: B-

Every once in a while there comes a movie or series of movies that contain a certain formula that works so well, any film using that formula can be either ridiculously likable, ridiculously successful financially, or ridiculously successful critically. For example, Nora Ephron created several romantic comedies that in reality we not very different from one another, but because of the perfect formula she had created, she was able to nourish the genre for ten years. Another example is producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who was able to produce high-adrenaline, male-oriented action movies that relied completely on visual effects and due to the successful formula he created, nary a one failed. In my eyes, Charlie’s Angels director McG has created the perfect formula for his franchise. Like the original, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is able to capture most of the wonderful spirit of the original, and still has the perfect blend of laughs, over-the-top action, and cat fights that how could I not help but recommend it?

Once upon a time, there were three very different little girls, who grew up to be three very different women. And once upon a time, McG (short for Joseph McGinty Nichol) created a movie I happen to adore. The first Charlie’s Angels, in all its sugary and flashy greatness, is my number 3 favorite movie of all-time. So naturally, the continuing adventures of Natalie, Alex and Dylan was high on my list of must-sees for 2003. This time around, the Angels are investigating the theft of two titanium “Halo” rings, which when put together decode the witness protection list. People from the witness protection program begin to turn up dead, and the angels discover the one of their own may be in grave danger, and one of their own might also be behind the scheme.

It was apparent in the first Charlie’s Angels picture as well as in Full Throttle that the script was the least important part of the movie. And that plot was traded in for cat fights and witty repartee. In Full Throttle, there appears to be no plot whatsoever. It seems that the story is just there to sloppily string the audience along from one Matrix-like action sequence to the next. The sole reason Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle is getting a lower rating than the original (for which, a review can be found in the Rental Reviews section) is because the plot makes no sense, while the plot and story for the original at least had some segue.

If you are able to follow the sparse trail the plot leads you on, then you will be rewarded with one of the best villains Hollywood has seen in quite a while. Former Brat-packer and early 90’s superstar Demi Moore makes her return to film since 2000’s indie, Passion of Mind as “fallen angel” Madison Lee in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Can anyone think of a better nemesis for Full Throttle? And can anyone think of an actor better suited to play gold gun-toting, red Ferrari-driving and black bikini-wearing Madison Lee than Demi Moore?

Scandals erupted during shooting on the first Charlie’s Angels; an argument and subsequent tension between angel Lucy Liu and Bill Murray supposedly occurred, and when the tabloids got ahold of this information, they had a field day. Whether or not the argument was as serious as rumored or whether it was a rumor, we will probably never really know (my guess is the argument was severe), but nevertheless, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle features a new Bosley, Bernie Mac. The story covers the relationship between Bernie Mac’s Bosley and Bill Murray’s Bosley (they are brothers, Bill Murray was adopted), yet the do not reveal why the first Bosley left. Bernie Mac has less screen time in Full Throttle than Bill Murray did in the original, yet Bernie Mac is an enjoyable replacement, albeit my affinity resides with Bill Murray.

Charlie’s Angels is the ubiquitous summer movie. You have babes, fast cars, action and massive explosions. In Full Throttle, McG and company not only pumped up the amount of these, but the believability. Obviously, neither film is supposed to be realistic, but having three girls grind down a rope on a board like a skater? Fall into a falling helicopter then piloting it to safety? Come on now. Some of the best action in the movie occurs during the very last minutes, when the audience gets to partake in the cat-fight of the year between Cameron Diaz’s Natalie, and Demi Moore’s Madison. Other than those exceptions, the majority of the action is of an enjoyable quality, but is as unique as swimming in the summer.

Full Throttle has enough cameos to rival an Austin Powers movie. Some of the cameos are just that, small and hardly noticeable roles filled by celebrities that you may or may not catch, while others are so brazen that their only purpose is for a good laugh (see: the opening 10 minutes of Austin Powers in Goldmember). Veteran screen-comedian John Cleese plays Alex’s uptight WASP father, who thinks she is a brain-surgeon, original Angel Jacyln Smith plays a guide for Dylan, and Bruce Willis plays a government official in a cameo you may or may not recognize, as he garners a plethora of make-up to appear much older, (I first thought the character was being played by the dad from Home Alone!). Singer/performer Pink makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen pop in for a laugh.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle was a rather painful experience for me. Painful in a good way though. No, I am not a sadomasochist, instead the movie was such a riot and so much fun, that despite its ridiculous tendencies when I left the theatre, my cheeks literally hurt from smiling! While Full Throttle isn’t the epitome of perfect summer movie-making as the first Charlie’s Angels was (even though the first Charlie’s Angels was released in November), spending an evening with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu proves just as enjoyable this time around.

© 2003 Jacob Sproul

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